7/22/2011Texas: Federal Judge Again Blocks Defense of Houston Anti-Camera Vote
Houston, Texas turns red light cameras back on as federal judge continues to block initiative sponsors from defending the vote.
On Sunday red light cameras will begin issuing citations once again in Houston, Texas despite the election result of November where a majority demanded the devices be taken down. US District Court Judge Lynn N. Hughes continues to deny the ability of the sponsors of the anti-camera initiative, Randall Kubosh and Francis M. Kubosh, to defend their effort against an election challenge mounted by American Traffic Solutions (ATS). Hughes on Wednesday ordered several legal arguments by the Kuboshes erased from the record.
"In court pleadings, the Kuboshes may not denominate themselves as intervenors, counter-defendants, third-party defendants, respondents, or anything else that they are not," Hughes wrote in a separate July 7 order striking another legal brief. "In public, they may call themselves whatever they want."
The Kuboshes supplied the prohibited legal filings to supplement the record because they believe the city of Houston is intentionally losing the case it filed against ATS in order to save the cameras. The speed with which the cameras resumed ticketing before the case is even over offers evidence for this theory. The Kuboshes also provided legal arguments and state law citations that the city refused to make regarding the validity of the contract. Doing so would have impaired the city's ability to reactive the cameras. Judge Hughes specifically invited such filings in a December 12 order.
"Positions inadequately argued by the city may be brought to the court's consideration by the Kuboshes as friends of the court, and should the court perceive anything like abandoned duty, it would simply invite their intervention," Hughes wrote.
Under Texas law, courts must permit the intervention of a qualified voter to defend a measure election in an election contest. The Kuboshes have appealed Hughes' refusal to allow intervention to the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals. A number of Texans expressed disgust with the actions of Hughes in messages sent to his official email address and made part of the official record.
"Shame on you if you allow the city of Houston and the Arizona-based company that runs the camera program to circumvent the vote of the people," Diane Robertson wrote in December. "The people's lawyers should have been heard in this case too -- the city is biased in that they are losing money because of this vote. I don't care what they expound on the news -- this is a backdoor way of trying to reinstate the camera program."
The reinstatement effort succeeded after Hughes' June order nullifying the election (view order).
"As a registered voter in Harris County, I feel my rights as a citizen have been violated," Doug Kimbro wrote on July 10. "I feel you have taken away my right to vote. I am very disappointed as an American citizen."
Hughes has not entered a final order in the case. He has refused to give leave for appeals until after he decides on several contractual issues between Houston and ATS.
"Isn't His Honor fortunate that you do not stand for election since you have such little regard for them," Houston resident Ken Bailey wrote in November.